Friday, November 02, 2012

The Justice League versus Sandy

Like many of you, I live on the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S.A, recently buffeted by the "Frankenstorm".  I personally was unharmed and suffered no inconveniences (such as power outage) at home, although, of course, the closing of the entire federal government, all local public transportation, and my nail salon were rather limiting.

During the many hours of enforced home-bound idleness (for there are only so many times one can re-watch Dr. Giggles and Midnight Meat Train), my mind naturally wandered to imagining how events would have been unfolding had this been Earth-One or if the Justice League lived here.  Surely, Batman would have come up with a plan whereby:
  • Superman and Flash troubleshot rescue situations,
  • Wonder Woman in her invisible plane would ameliorate the storm with, say, the Cerulean Calming Ray,
  • and Aquaman would telepathically link the combined willpower of all the citizens of Gotham and Metropolis and funnel them through Green Lantern to create a gigantic wall along the sea to blunt the force of the storm's landfall.
  • Oh, and Shazam might do something dramatic involving lightning.

It would look something like this.  Except much more focused on Hal's butt, I'm sure.

What a wonderful world that would be to live in, I thought.  One where superheroes were on hand to help protect us from such disasters and difficulties.

But then ... I thought some more.  And the Li'l Lex Luthor we all carry inside us started to speak his mind...

I deplore the damage, destruction, and death the storm caused; who would not?  But I am also reading a lot about some of the secondary effects of the event.  People (and politicians) who have pooh-poohed the power of the federal government are re-thinking the need for it in times of crisis.  Important weaknesses in our urban infrastructure have been revealed and the need to invest in and revamp them brightly highlighted.  The potential damage of unchecked global warming has become a real and palpible thing, forcing many to re-assess our committment to addressing the most pressing environment issue of our time.

If the Justice League had been here to protect us, would any of those things be happening?  Or would we, with gratitude and complacence, simply be saying, "Oh, thank goodness for the Justice League; our heroes!"

Like personal crisis in our private lives, public crisis makes us take stock, re-examine our priorities, and make (hopefully) healthy changes.  Like parturition, the process is painful, but the outcome can be delightfully life-changing. 

Invasions by alien armadas and supervillain attacks are one thing.  But if the Justice League were here to save us from every natural or man-made disaster, every malfunctioning space-plane, every unstable nuclear reactor, every STAR Labs mishap...

would this wind up being a better world or a worse one, in the long run?

I'm not sure.


Jack said...

Midnight Meat Train sounds dirty... not appropriate

Scipio said...

It's a horror movie.

YOU're the one who's dirty, Jack, LOL!

But that's okay; it's one of the things I like about you ;-)

Bulk Blogan said...

Food for thought: if the JLA did save us from every disaster, we wouldn't have to spend billions and billions of dollars on recovery and repair. We might be able to spend it on improving infrastructure to begin with, or advancing science and technology or helping the general welfare for every ordinary Joe like you and me.

Bryan L said...

Sorry about your nails. Enforced idleness is brutal. Back in 2004, in the year of the hurricanes here in Florida, the isolation was maddening. Fortunately I suffered no significant damage, but the fact that everything was shut down and everything closed (repeatedly over the course of a few weeks) drove me crazy. Sitting inside your house with the windows boarded up is NOT everything it's cracked up to be.

Andrew said...

I love you, Scipio, but I couldn't help reading your post in the voice of Captain Kirk, as interpreted by William Shatner.

Seriously, the argument you're making is the one made in every episode of the original Star Trek when the Enterprise encountered an idyllic planet overseen by some fantastically-powerful computer or alien. And Kirk always blew up the computer, or killed the alien, so that the inhabitants could 'grow up' and become 'adults' who could manage their own problems.

I didn't buy it when Shatner and Roddenberry were selling, and I don't buy it now. Sure, I agree with Aristotle that the point of life is to achieve the good life for human beings, and an important constituent of that is learning to practice the virtues (honesty, cooperation, patience, long-term planning, etc.) that being masters of our own fate provides. But again, as per Aristotle, living the good life for human beings also requires that enjoy enough material comfort and liberty so as to free us from those constraints that would prevent us from achieving that goal. And the latter would be much easier to have if the Justice League was watching out for us.

I'd add that, IMHO, even with the Justice League (or some Trek-esque supercomputer) governing us, we'd still be beset by enough difficulties to force us to 'grow up' and learn the adult virtues. Even if our superhuman protectors licked the security problem, we'd still need to figure out how to generate new resources and distribute them appropriately. You live in Washington, so you know just how trickly settling those questions is.

So I, for one, welcome our new Justice League overlords... if only they were real.

And thanks for providing the food for thought. You're the exemplar of comics blogging - questions like this are so much more interesting to ponder than "who would win in a fight, Cyclops or Captain America?"

SallyP said...

It's true. That is a lovely picture of Hal, but it really should be showing off his manly buttocks.

ronald said...

Darn, from the heading, I thought today's entry would be something about Sandy the Golden Boy fighting the JLA as a giant silicon monster. Oh well.

The difference between the scenario under discussion and the Star Trek scenario is that the Federation is a multi-stellar government overwhelmingly more advanced than the planets it could theoretically aid. It's the whole "contact with more advanced cultures never works out well for "less advanced" cultures" thing.

The JLA is, in contrast, not a culture at all but just a dozen or so individuals, most of them U.S. citizens.

So it's not entirely the same thing, is my point, such as it is.

GamerGuy said...

I always looked at it like this: there are dozens of minor disasters per week somewhere. The JLA would be taking care of the massive ones, the Sandys, the Indonesian Typhoon level things, and have to leave the rest.

Normal people would still have to handle lots of things on their own because there's only so many hours in the day and even most of the JLA members have lives, jobs, the need for sleep, etc.

Anonymous said...

For every hurricane Sandy the JLA could mitigate, there's a half-dozen or dozen catastrophes they can't. If anything, the DCU faces more urban devastation from the various alien invasions, giant apes & robots, and super-bralws that drop skyscrapers indiscriminately. I don't think spending to mitigate weather-related disasters makes sense in a world like that. It makes more sense to ensure that superhuman response teams are available for disasters, and (following the model of the medieval Japanese) we build urban areas with the idea that they will need to be evacuated and rebuilt. Frequently.

– Jack of Spades

ronald said...

>>>the model of the medieval Japanese) urban areas with the idea that they will need to be evacuated and rebuilt

You just explained, like, every Japanese monster movie ever. So THAT'S how Japan is able to rebuild Tokyo again and again and again, the city was built with that very purpose in mind.


Jacob T. Levy said...

An old (but good) question, from "Does the world need a Superman?" to "Camelot Falls."

But, well, Katrina was ten years ago. Here on Earth-Prime, the absence of superheroes doesn't seem to have motivated a lot of infrastructure planning or climate change mitigation in those ten years. The hypothesis that humanity will precisely rise to the challenges presented to it, and so would do less in the presence of a bigger security blanket, has always struck me as overly optimistic. Plenty of challenges aren't met; and, even with the sky full of superheroes, plenty of challenges would still arise in need of meeting.

Bryan L said...

A new Vibe series is announced, and Scipio has no comment? Priorities, man, priorities.

Marcos said...

That pic is from Mortal Kombat vs the DC Universe?